“It was as though his features had been burned and blurred; they were waxy and and oddly distorted, and the whites of the eyes had a permanently bloody look… and his face was pale as snow…”(Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince). All these features describe one man, Lord Voldemort or The Dark Lord. A man who strikes so much fear into the hearts of Harry Potter characters that they even fear to speak his name. Before he was Lord Voldemort he was the charming Tom Marvolo Riddle whom all the professors at Hogwarts School of Wizardry believed was a talented wizard and had the means to become a first rate wizard. Little did they know that he would become a dark wizard, power hungry and stray down a path of darkness to attain immortality, one that involved the killings of hundreds and taking over the magical world. Fans of Harry Potter alike want to know how Voldemort became the villain he is in the series. What lead to the horrific deaths created by Voldemort was that he was conceived by a love potion, grew up in an orphanage, and his lack of a mother’s love made him unempathetic.
One reason Voldemort became the evil wizard he is in the Harry Potter series is that he was conceived by a love potion. In JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, Tom Marvolo Riddle’s mother a witch named Merope Gaunt, fell in love with a human. The only way Merope could make the human fall in love her was under the influence of a love potion. The man did indeed fall in love with her and she even became pregnant. Merope did not want to keep the love of her life under the spell so she stopped giving him the love potion and hoped that he would at least stay for the baby but she was wrong, he left her. The YouTuber Movie Flame also further explains in his video “The Story of Lord Voldemort” that because Tom “conceived under a love potion he’s never able to feel or express love in his life”. This is one of the reasons for his journey on a dark path and explains his committing of many evil deeds throughout his life without any compassion. One example is further shown in Harry Potter and The Half Blood-Prince during his time at Wool’s Orphanage from when he was born till the age of eleven. The YouTuber Harry Potter Folklore goes into more in depth of the how the orphanage affected Voldemort.
In the YouTube video, “The Root of Voldemort’s Evil” it portrays the orphanage as dark and gloomy and it was painted to be a place “where power and coercion rule the weak. Tom is already fending for himself, a hardened boy convinced that power is the only way to survive and later going on to believe instead that power is the only way to live” (Harry Potter Folklore). It was at this orphanage that Voldemort learned that power is a necessity and this makes his journey to beat death and his power hungry attitude make sense because from a young age he learned that power is what is needed to survive. The YouTuber Movie Flame explains that, “Even though he did not know he possessed magical powers his powers were extremely advance for his age. He used them for his own gain and to bully other orphans… Tom collected trophies by stealing things from the children he bullied as sort of a reward for his acts of unkindness” (“The Story Of…”). This is a demonstration of the Tom’s evil manifesting at a young age. Moreover this relates to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s III Monster Theory, he illustrates that the “refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally…”(6). Tom did not follow the order of things when he decided to bully the other children. He knows he is different from the other children and when he bullies them instead of befriending them he is testing how much power he could have over them. It worked because the orphans were afraid of him. In an article that is titled, “Children in Institutional Care” it provides insights to the harmful effects of an orphanage when they reveal that, “Children exposed to institutional care often suffer from “structural neglect” which may include minimum physical resources, unfavorable and unstable staffing patterns, and social-emotionally inadequate caregiver-child interactions”(Van). The structural neglect is what happened to Tom because it seems the staff did not try to stop his bad behavior back then. In a webpage on the history of the orphanage Tom stayed at it is illustrated that, “Tom has no sentimental attachments for the orphanage, as the staff rarely [gave] him parental guidance due to his independent nature (as he rarely cried even in his infancy)”(“Wool’s Orphanage”). This illustrates Tom as not being a normal child perhaps because he was conceived under the influence of a love potion he was already set up to be different.
J.K. Rowling depicts that it was never proven that he did so but he had hung a child’s bunny from the rafter after getting into an argument the day before. That was not all, one day on a field trip to the countryside Tom and two other children went into a cave that they found and the children were never quite that right after that and Tom swore that they just went exploring (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). The change in the children reveal that Tom did more than just take them exploring he did something that scared the children because he did not know of his magical powers. Tom acts out with the owner of the orphanage Mrs. Cole when, “he defensively accuse Mrs. Cole of insanity without any hesitation when he thought she was going to send him to an asylum for his actions” (“Wool’s Orphanage”). It is implied that Mrs. Cole thought of Tom as more than just a problem child, there was something off about him. Perhaps if he was in a more loving environment and the orphanage was able to punish him more for bullying other orphans his acts of terror would have never happened.
Lord Voldemort was raised without a loving parental figure in his life. Normally people who are born without loving parental figures turn out fine but it was because of Voldemort being conceived from a love potion and the lack of no one to show him love that led into his descent into darkness. Lord Voldemort’s mother gave birth to him in an orphanage and died one hour later and only left him with his name. In a Youtube video by Harry Potter Folklore they explain the biggest factor of the roots of Voldermort’s evil “was the lack of a mother’s love is such an important theme in Harry Potter” (“The Root of…”). Voldemort did not have someone to teach him compassion or how to care for others, he did not have a normal childhood because he grew up in an orphanage. In an archive titled, “Children Without Mothers Are at Special Risk” they illustrate that, “If a son or daughter who loses a mother never receives adequate substitute mothering, the loss can do long-term damage to his or her self-esteem, ability to relate to other people, overall feelings of security and ability to trust others” (NY Times). Voldemort does not fall under all these categories but he does have trouble relate to other people as mentioned previously and as a young boy while he lived in the orphanage he did not trust anyone. To think that the loss of a mother could affect your whole life is unthinkable especially in what one becomes when they grow up. An example of this is in the novel Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, in Voldemort’s quest for power and immortality he did not care if he had to murder people in the process. By gaining the trust of others while working at a magic shop after he graduated from Hogwarts he was able to murder a woman named Hepzibah Smith for the Hufflepuff cup in order to create a horcrux. An object that can hold a piece of Voldemort’s soul in order to attain immortality.
Tom being conceived from a love potion and lack of a motherly figure lead into him showing no empathy. At age eleven, the headmaster at Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore picked Tom up from the orphanage because he learned of his magic powers, the ones he used to torment other orphans. The Youtuber Movie Flame gives a great summary of the events that happened to Tom in author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. It is depicted that after Tom’s fifth year of school at Hogwarts he went on summer holiday and he took a visit to the family Gaunt house where his mother grew up. There he meets his uncle Morfin who attacks him because he confuses Tom as his father because the look alike. Tom reveals he is Morphen’s relative when he speaks in parseltongue or the language of serpents, an ability only those who are direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin aka the Gaunt family can accomplish. Tom asks his uncle who his father was and Morfin told him where he lived and that he left his mother when she was pregnant with Tom, with magic Tom stoopified his uncle, took his wand, and murdered his father’s whole family who were mere innocent humans. He returned to the Gaunt house using extremely advanced magic especially at the age sixteen to change Morphen’s memory so he could believe he killed the Tom’s father and was proud of it. This implies that Voldemort’s hatred toward humans came from learning that his human father left his mother. His anger is reflected when shortly after learning where his father lives from his uncle he murders his father’s family. It is no wonder that later no one dares to speak his name as this was only his first murder and he was already capable of committing such a crime at age sixteen.
The Youtuber Movie Flame demonstrates that Tom hated the fact that his father was human. In J.K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets it is demonstrated that during his school years, Tom was obsessed on how to cheat death, leading to the creation of another horcrux, a diary. That time he murdered a fellow student by the name of Myrtle to allow a part of his soul to reside within it. It is in this novel that the teenage soul of Tom that was kept in his diary shouts to Harry Potter the protagonist, “Surely you didn’t think I would keep my filthy muggle father’s name!” (Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets).
In the Harry Potter universe humans are referred to as muggles by wizards. In this scene Tom’s voice is filled with disgust as if his father was the worst man on earth. This was another reason for Tom’s dislike of humans. Cohen’s IV’s thesis, ‘The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference” demonstrates that, “In the United States, Native Americans were presented as unredeemable savages so that… Manifest Destiny could push westward with disregard”(8). Tom seeing humans as filthy leads into why he wants to rid the wizarding world of humans. By making humans to be filthy and seeing them as powerless he was able to feel less empathetic towards them. Tom even lacked empathy towards his mother. He even believed that she was the one who was human and not a witch because as Tom explained she “had succumbed to the shameful human weakness of death” only an hour after he was born. Tom did not seem to care about his mother’s death because he called it shameful, all he wanted to know where his wizard background had came from. He also did not seem to want to know anything about his mother unless it benefited him. Kylie Rymanowicz from Michigan State University reveals that “empathetic people have the ability to connect with others on a deeper level and can lead to individuals being helpful, involved and invested in other people…empathy is an increasingly important tool to connect with the world” (“Children and empathy…”). It is true that Tom lacked empathy and the ability to connect with others on a deeper level but he only choose to connect with people when it benefited him, such as only going to visit his uncle to know his father’s whereabouts to find out more about his heitage and steal his uncles ring or getting closer to his professors to learn how to do powerful spells. Even forming a group of acquaintances at school that began to trust him and later became his faithful Death Eaters that helped him bring fear to humans and the wizarding world alike by murdering innocent people. Voldemort’s childhood without love correlates to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Theory V, “Every monster is in this way a double narrative, two living stories: one that describes how the monster came to be and another, and it’s testimony, detailing what cultural use the monster serves”(13). Voldemort came to be because of his dark childhood one that is supposed to make the audience feel sympathy for him because his fate was decided before he was born. Although Voldemort always held this darkness inside of him the backstory to his character gives him more substance. His mother used magic to sway someone to fall in love with her thus creating a child that could not love. Voldemort became someone who did not know of love and did not feel pity as he murdered more people in order to become immortal and more powerful with ease.
All in all, what lead Tom Marvolo Riddle becoming Lord Voldemort was that he was conceived by a love potion, grew up in an orphanage, and the lack of a mother’s love left him unempathetic. Although there are cases where people who grow up in an orphanage or have no parental figure in their life grow up fine, that is not the case for Voldemort. It was because he was born unnaturally the lead to his dark behavior in the future. Love is a powerful thing and when that is created such as when Voldemort’s mother made Voldemort’s father fall in love with her one may end up with a monster. A monster that wizards fear to speak his name as he only wants power and immortality even if that means harming innocent wizards and humans. What holds Voldemort to be a great monster is that he is complex once the audience think they understand him they do not. He is not keen on expressing his emotions. He was so good at masking his evil that even his previous professors from Hogwarts believe, “If the monster existed it was buried deep within…”
“Children Without Mothers Are at Special Risk.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 May 1994, http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/01/opinion/l-children-without-mothers-are-at-special-risk-954179.html.
This source explores maternal absence and what happens when a mother is separated from her birth child. This helps me in my research process because I want to dive in deeper on why Voldemort became such a evil wizard and the first step is to look at his childhood. This source would help me prove that without the care from his mother Voldemort went down a dark path. I believe this source is semi credible because it is from a New York Times archive. At the same time it could hold a lot bias.
Cohen, Jeffery Jerome. Monster Culture (Seven Theses). University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
This source is about debunking monsters and explaining their actions in seven theories. It is required for my essay but it was helpful to have a backbone that drove my paper to where it needed to be. It lead me into researching certain things for my essay. This is a reliable source since it was a piece provided by the professor.
Folklore, Harry Potter. The Root Of Voldemort’s Evil. YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2016, youtu.be/FbBLSBcvOUk.
This source is about why Voldemort is evil. Harry Potter Folklore discusses that they believe the root of Voldemort’s evil is because he was conceived under the influence of a love potion. This source was helpful in that it was the launch pad in what led me to write about Voldemort. It sparked the idea that I could analyze deeper into Voldemort’s childhood with more resources. I believe this source is semi-credible it is a YouTube video so I do have to be careful but Harry Potter Folklore seemed to know the Voldemort facts from the Harry Potter series.
MovieFlame, director. The Story of Lord Voldemort: Tom Riddle Origins Explained. YouTube, YouTube, 30 Oct. 2018, youtu.be/9FXD6rl7Tic.
This source gives a very detailed timeline of Voldemort’s life from beginning to end. The movie clips and direct lines from the Harry Potter series all bring the video together. This source is extremely helpful in that instead of citing some of the Harry Potter books or films I can cite a video where the information is all in one place. It also served on a refresher on what Voldemort did throughout his life that was evil. This source is semi-credible because it is from YouTube but I have faith in the creator MovieFlame since they present facts and lengthy commentary about Voldemort.
Rowling, J. K., et al. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic Inc., 2002.
This source is not strictly about Voldemort but it does contain secrets on his past. This source is super helpful because I was able to use to as evidence to analyze voldemort as a monster. This source is credible because it was published and it is not non-fiction so the content inside should about things that do not suit the norm.
Rowling, J. K., et al. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic Inc., 2018.
This source is again not strictly about Voldemort but contains more evidence for my essay to portray Voldemort as monstrous. It is his actions that makes him evil. This source is credible because it was published and it is not non-fiction so the content inside should about things that do not suit the norm.
Rowling, J. K., et al. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Scholastic Inc., 2018.
Compared to the other Harry Potter novels I have cited this source was one of the most important because it talks about Voldemort’s childhood. This source was crucial to my essay because I needed it to prove that his past effects why he became monstrous. A childhood is normally what creates a person to be who they are when they grow up. This source is credible because it was published and it is not non-fiction so the content inside should about things that do not suit the norm.
Rymanowicz, Kylie. “Children and Empathy: Kindness.” Native Plants and Ecosystem Services, Michigan State University | College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, 2 Oct. 2018, www.canr.msu.edu/news/children_and_empathy_kindness.
This source shows how important kindness and empathy are to have in children. As a child Voldemort does not bond with any children at his orphanage because he feels he cannot bond with them. I wanted to analyze how empathy is important in order to interact with others. I believe this source is credible because it was made by someone at a university.
van IJzendoorn, Marinus H et al. “Children in Institutional Care: Delayed Development and Resilience” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development vol. 76,4 (2011): 8-30.
This source is about the harmful effects of children in institutional care. These children are not in a nurturing environment which they normally would be getting in a normal home. This source is helpful in that it will help me analyze the part in Voldemort’s life when he lived in a orphanage. This was the time in his life where the workers at the orphanage realized something was strange about Tom. I believe this source is credible that is a .gov and is website about health in the United States.
“Wool’s Orphanage.” Harry Potter Wiki, harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Wool’s_Orphanage.
This source gives a more detailed summary of the orphanage Voldemort grew up in. It referenced and analyzed things from the book Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince I did not remember. I believe it even allowed my analysis to be stronger because I was able to back my commentary up with evidence. This source is credible because it was made by fans.